Danger Mouse proved he could flip an unlikely beat and make it sing in 2004, when he sampled the White Album under rhymes from Jay-Z's Black Album. Then he got even more colorful as the beat doctor for Gorillaz' second album. Now Danger's united with hip-hop eccentric Cee-Lo (Goodie Mob) for some knife-edge reassemblage via Gnarls Barkley, and he keeps the beats unpredictable while accentuating the vocals. Instead of conventional break beats or overused one-finger keyboard bass hooks there's kooky Blue Man Group-style tube percussion and layers of random electronic ephemera, and while his hyperized soul delivery on "Smiley Faces" makes Cee an adenoidal Al Green for a Motown-gone-paranoid ("Your worries and fears become your friend/And wind up smiling at you"), he's alternately gravelly and singsong for the sulky funk of "Online." Cee-Lo and Danger are clearly having fun on Elsewhere, with its broad stylistic palette and room to roam. But their musical free association can also misfire. A bouncing ball karaoke cover of Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone" bulldozes the soulful angst Cee-Lo showed on breakout single "Crazy," and "Feng Shui" gives rowdy props to ... interior decorating? Crazy is right. But at least Elsewhere loves being a little bananas.
Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.